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An article donated by
Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys

‘Tis the Season for Giving and "Taking"?

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In my most recent essays, I have been discussing and trying to explain the different World Views of Conservatives and Liberals in hopes that we might come to a better understanding of what divides us -- in hope that somehow we might find ways to work around these divisions. In this essay I am going to talk about the different World Views between East and West.

Rudyard Kipling once wrote: "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet."

I think he was wrong. By "East" he and I are referring to the ways Eastern philosophers and religions -- Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, etc. -- view the World and the way Western philosophers and religion -- as anchored by the three Monotheisms Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the ancient Greek philosophers -- view the World.

These differences are often most apparent in our slogans. One such slogan is that of "Give and Take". A slogan that addresses polar opposites. An Eastern version of the slogan is "Give and Accept." This is my opinion; I haven’t seen this written anywhere, This version pairs words that are complements not opposites and thus sees the concept in a very different light.

Complements (in this case words, it could also be people, ideas, etc.) fulfill each other. Opposites are at war with each other, one fighting the other for a position of supremacy.

Another great Thinker/Poet was Carl Sandburg. He wrote a poem in which he said: "The Fog creeps in on little cat feet." I take this to mean that it creeps in silently and unexpectedly until it surrounds and engulfs us. I think that ideas are like the fog, the good ones (and unfortunately even the bad ones) creep into our thoughts, words and actions silently, unexpectedly until they surround us and engulf us. I hope my thoughts here about "Give and take" and "Give and acceptance" will creep into your thoughts and words during this "Season of  Giving and _____________ ."

Words carry multiple meanings. We all understand the concept of giving. It means taking something you have and passing it on to someone else. At Thanksgiving time we are encouraged to give Thanks for all the blessings, good things, gifts, that have come our way during this past year. At Christmas time we give gifts to others.

Taking has multiple meanings. It might mean simply picking something out from a pile of goods at the store and taking it to the checkout counter to pay for it. It might also imply taking something from that pile of goods at the store, slipping it under your coat and trying to walk out without paying for it. Taking implies grabbing something that isn’t yours and making it yours -- whether or not it is yours to take.

With the idea of "Give and Take" there is an underlying current of quid pro quo. If you take something from me you owe me something in return. This isn’t what "giving" should be about. Though I admit people give expecting to get something back. One example Big Donors to Colleges and Universities expect to have their name put on the building or development that their donation made possible.

Accepting carries very different meanings. Accepting involves an element of grace. Grace in this sense is difficult to define. It carries an element of thankfulness, acknowledgement of kindness -- and most importantly an element of humility (that you are unworthy of being given this gift).

There are two gifts that are priceless, they can’t be bought, they can’t be taken, they can ONLY be freely given with no demands for a quid pro quo (getting the same priceless gift in return).  AND they can ONLY be accepted, with thanks, with acknowledgement of kindness, most importantly with humility (that you are unworthy of being given such a priceless gift).

These two gifts are Love and Friendship. I hope you will give both of these this season of giving and I hope you will accept what is freely offered with grace.

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Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys
Originally posted on: 2018-DEC-20
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